No. 9 Stranded in Wisconsin
FAU’s second game of the season resembled an MLB road trip more than a college football season.
The Owls left South Florida for Wisconsin as Hurricane Irma took aim at the Sunshine State. By the time FAU concluded its 31-14 loss to the Badgers, it was too late to return.
Irma’s Sunday landfall prompted the closing of South Florida airports before the Owls could get airborne. Though the southeast coast of Florida avoided the worst of the damage With campus closed and South Florida in general spending days cleaning up, the FAU football team found itself stuck in Madison.
The University of Wisconsin picked up the Owls’ hotel tab. It allowed the Owls to practice at Big 10 facilities. FAU coaches, many of whom didn’t think they would be asked to leave their families behind in the first place, did their best to produce a normal week.
The ability to play the following week’s game against Bethune-Cookman was in question, but the Owls ultimately returned to Boca Raton following Wednesday’s practice in Madison and defeated the Wildcats 45-0 on Saturday for the first victory of the Lane Kiffin era.
What We Wrote
- FAU Offense Continues to Struggle at Wisconsin
- Strange Start to Kiffin’s FAU Career Includes Extended Stay in Wisconsin
- FAU QB De’Andre Johnson Remains Hospitalized Following Surgery
- Kiffin, FAU Enjoying Midwestern Charm
- Minimal Damage To FAU Stadium from Irma
Why It’s Important
The Owls were still a hodgepodge of components heading to Wisconsin. FAU only handed the ball to Devin Singletary six times and Buddy Howell once in the opening game loss to Navy. The quarterback position grew even more unsettled in the week leading up to the Wisconsin game when De’Andre Johnson needed to undergo what turned out to be season-ending emergency surgery to remove blood clots in his arm.
FAU improved from the first week to the second week, but the days they spent stuck in Madison seemed to galvanize, rather than divide, the Owls.
“We turned that into a positive and looked at is as, OK, a bonding experience for the players that they normally don’t get because they’d be in school normally,” Kiffin said. “Now they are up there in a hotel, nowhere to go. I think for coaches, too, we didn’t do some things real well in that first game so it gave us a chance to really spend a lot of time right there with not a lot of distractions. So something that really could have been bad turned out really good.”
FAU returned home and found its running game in that victory over Bethune-Cookman. The Owls lost the following week at Buffalo but didn’t lose again after that.
Kiffin and FAU purchased a full page ad in the Wisconsin State Journal thanking Wisconsin for its hospitality.
And as the Owls hit their stride in the run to the first Conference USA title in program history, Kiffin frequently referred back to this bonding weekend as a pivotal week in the season.
No. 10: Construction Begins on Schmidt Complex
No. 9: Stranded in Wisconsin
No. 8: Curry Out, May In
No. 7: Constant QB Battle
No. 6: Change at the Top
No. 5: Baseball Keeps Rolling
No. 4: Boca Bowl Bliss
No. 3: Motor’s Historic Run
No. 2: Conference USA Title Time
No. 1 : The Lane Train Express